A polarizing figure from the popular Netlix series “Tiger King” is bringing her business to the Ozarks.
Carole Baskin recently announced plans to sell her longtime Florida sanctuary Big Cat Rescue and merge with Turpentine Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs.
Thirty-five of Baskin’s 41 big cats will be transported to Arkansas, according to Big Cat Rescue co-owner Howard Baskin, who cited significant operational costs among the reasons he plans to sell the 67-acre business in Tampa.
The move comes four months after Congress passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The bill effectively shut down the cub petting industry, where Big Cat Rescue took in much of its animals deemed abused by private owners.
The Baskins, who helped spearhead the bill, said they accomplished a goal of essentially putting themselves out of business.
Turpentine Creek, which has more than 400 acres, also has rescued abandoned, abused and neglected big cats for more than 30 years.
Turpentine Creek confirmed on its Facebook page Thursday that Big Cat Rescue is downsizing and has started building new habitats for the big cats that came from Florida. Some cats are expected to arrive as early as July.
Big Cat Rescue is funding the construction of the new enclosures at Turpentine Creek at an estimated cost of $1.8 million, much of the money coming from donations.
“The win-win solution both for our captive cats and the cats in the wild is for us to merge our cat population with the population at another existing accredited sanctuary,” Howard Baskin said in a news release. “And devote the remaining resources of our sanctuary to the ‘in situ’ projects being conducted around the world to avoid extinction.”
Big Cat Rescue stopped its public tours at its Florida base in recent years, according to its website due to the “double punch of COVID-19 and the negative impact from Tiger King.”
Carole Baskin became a well-known figure in 2020 for her feud with roadside zookeeper and cub-breeder Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage, which was featured on the Netflix series “Tiger King” that was viewed by millions.
Maldonado-Passage is serving a 21-year prison sentence for hiring hitmen to kill Carole Baskin.
Maldonado-Passage famously accused her of murdering her ex-husband, Don Lewis, and feeding him to Tigers. Lewis disappeared in 1997 and the investigation into his disappearance is still active.
Months after the release of the Netflix series, Baskin was featured on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
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